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2011-2012 NBA MVP Watch 3/9/12
Posted By Joel Brigham On March 9, 2012 @ 12:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Now that we’re a couple weeks past the All-Star game and steadily creeping towards the trade deadline on Thursday, it’s as good a time as any to check back in with our MVP rankings. You’ll recognize the usual suspects in the list below, but there’s a shake-up at the top. LeBron James might not be the front-runner anymore.
Here are the top five candidates for MVP as it stands today:
#5 – Chris Paul – The Clippers’ current six-game road trip was supposed to be a defining moment in the team’s season, and instead they’ve lost 3 of their last 4 on the road, with the sixth of that trip Friday night in San Antonio, which won’t be easy. Team success is a big part of how we measure any player, so even though Paul has done so much for the franchise this year, those struggles factor into his drop. Also, it should be noted that he’s only gotten double-digit assists twice since February 11th. The good news, of course, is that both of those games came in the last week. There have been some struggles the last five or six weeks for Paul, both personal and team, but he’ll stay firmly entrenched in the MVP conversation all season. It’s not easy rejuvenating the Clippers.
#4 – Kobe Bryant – Bryant still leads the league in scoring, which counts for something in a conversation about the MVP, but his play since the All-Star game has been nothing short of stellar. The Lakers have won only 3 of their last 5 games, but Kobe has scored 31 or more in four of them, even with the mask. You’d love to see his team win more, but there isn’t a team in the league that would see a bigger drop-off after losing their star than L.A. would experience sans Kobe. His team needs him, and Kobe has come up big all year long. Sure, 23-16 isn’t an outstanding record, but what might it look like without Bryant?
#3 – Derrick Rose – Not only have the Chicago Bulls won 8 of their last 9 games, and not only do the Bulls boast the best record in the Eastern Conference, but now that Derrick Rose is healthy he’s back to having another terrific season. He’s scoring less than his MVP season, but he’s also shooting better, turning the ball over less, and getting better and better in the fourth quarter. There’s almost no way to stop him, and the fact that his team relies so heavily on his talents proves his value to the franchise. Few elite teams rely so heavily on one guy, and that plays into D-Rose’s jump up the MVP rankings, too.
#2 – LeBron James – If the season ended today, LeBron’s 33.12 PER would be the highest single-season PER in the history of basketball by over a point. That’s better than Wilt Chamberlain in 1962 and 1963, and better than Michael Jordan in 1988. It’s simply an insane number that, combined with Miami’s team success this year, is going to get him a ton of votes for this award. So how does a guy with historic numbers not get the top slot on this list? Well…
#1 – Kevin Durant – The campaign for LeBron James winning the MVP this season continues to come down to his ridiculous stats (see above), but there are stats that support Durant as the MVP, too. Specifically, clutch stats land heavily in KD’s favor. According to 82games.com, Durant’s clutch numbers include 55.2 points per 48 minutes of clutch time worth +27 in team production while he’s on the court. LeBron, however, is almost 20 full points behind him in 48 minutes of clutch time scoring, and he’s only +2 in team production. The fact that James shies away from the big shot while Durant embraces it could seriously impact voters, not to mention the fact that it’s possible many voters will look for a way to pick somebody other than LeBron, anyhow. Despite that, Durant deserves it just as much as James does, and his clutch numbers could very well serve as a tie-breaker before it’s all said and done.
Dwight Howard – Here’s another example of a guy that means absolutely everything to his team. You can’t, however, blow a 20-point lead to Charlotte and lose by 16. LeBron wouldn’t let that happen. Durant and Rose and Kobe wouldn’t let it happen, either. That, plus the constant distraction of “will he leave Orlando or won’t he?” keeps him out of the top five, but it wouldn’t be insane to think he’d sneak back in there before season’s end.
Kevin Love – The kid’s numbers are just out of this world. He’s fourth in the league in scoring with 25.5 ppg, and second in the league in rebounding with 13.8 rpg, and stat lines like 38/17 and 42/10 and 30/18 and 32/21 and 31/20 are all right on the verge of being unbelievable. The Wolves, though, aren’t a great team, so Love remains in Honorable Mention purgatory.
Is there anybody who else who should be in the discussion that’s not on the list (and no, you’re not allowed to say Jeremy Lin)? Is the above ordering of MVP candidates fair to what’s actually transpired over the course of the season so far? Hit up the comments section with your objections, and stay tuned to HOOPSWORLD as we continue to track the MVP race right down to the wire.
There’s still plenty of time to go, so absolutely anything could happen.
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